• 2017

The Dream Team

Cover Story    Hot Topics    MRC   

People. Products. Power. Something magical is happening at the Mopar product development lab.

Walk into the southern-most building of the Mopar® complex in Center Line, Michigan, and you could be easily fooled into thinking you’re heading into a typical office space full of cubicle farms.

But when the doors part, cubicles are nowhere to be found. Instead, on a glossy white floor, are Mopar branded vehicles from past and present, all beautifully adorned with the Mopar Omega M. One room over, more vehicles bearing the latest Mopar Parts and Accessories, including the recently revealed all-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler. Further back is the engine room, where crate engines are being built and tuned to perfection.

This is the Mopar® Product Development Lab — home to many historical Mopar Limited Edition vehicles, and the people who continue to make Mopar history every day. Within these walls, technicians and engineers are busy stretching boundaries, looking beyond the typical and pushing the limits to create the Mopar portfolio. Like bigger, better, stronger performance parts for the all-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler. A ferocious plug-and-play 6.2L Supercharged Crate HEMI® Engine so powerful they’ve dubbed it the “Hellcrate.” And accessories like all-weather floor mats that are sure to have the competition stopping to take notice.

“My job is to dream of and work on cool stuff, then make it cooler. What’s not to love?” — Jeff Summers, Lab Supervisor

“My job is to dream of and work on cool stuff, then make it cooler. What’s not to love?” — Jeff Summers, Lab Supervisor

At the heart of the lab are people; gifted technicians and engineers there to ignore the ordinary, create the unexpected and bring to market products extraordinary enough to bear the Mopar name.

 “We designed it to look like a toy metal cop car we had when we were kids.” — Jeff Summers, Lab Supervisor

“We designed it to look like a toy metal cop car we had when we were kids.”
— Jeff Summers, Lab Supervisor

“In Service of All Who Drive Us” Custom Mopar Cop Charger

The Mopar Cop Charger came to the lab for lights and sirens. But Jeff and his crew decided to take it further. Make it cooler. So they threw on a cold air intake, cat-back exhaust, 5-spoke mag wheels, a hood scoop, rear spoiler and custom Mopar police graphics. Now it appears at meetings and shows, and is offered to local police departments for their own events.


Jeep® Performance parts Made Perfect for the All-New 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Unless you’re a stranger to Mopar®, you know that every part and every accessory is made to fit perfectly. And when you have a vehicle like the all-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler, they also need to stand up to challenging terrain.

Enter the new Jeep Performance Parts Lift Kit for the all-new 2018 Wrangler. It is the biggest and baddest lift kit of its kind. “We pulled out all the stops on this new lift kit. It has 2-inch FOX® shocks and ups the articulation from 11-degrees to 13. It improves the vehicle’s break-over, departure and ground clearance. And since it’s a Jeep Performance Parts Lift Kit, it integrated with the vehicle – driveshaft, brake lines, wheel speed sensors, all of it. And, of course, it’s federally compliant, brake, ESC-tested and FMVSS-compliant,” said Scott Kiel, Mopar Engineer.

“We had our internal scuffles during development,” said Kiel. “For this lift kit, I needed to extend the brake lines to make the lift kits fit to meet our target for articulation. The product engineers hated doing it, but the lift kit fits great and we passed brake testing with no problems.”

• 4 – 2” FOX shocks with all-new production bushings
• 4 – Coil springs (dual coating)
• 4 – Stabilizer bar links (front/rear)
• 4 – Bump stops (front/rear)
• 2 – Lower front control arms with production bushings (caster correction)
• All necessary fasteners included

The All-New 2018 Jeep® Wrangler. New Jeep Performance Parts.

A brand-new vehicle deserves brand-new Mopar® Accessories, including Jeep® Performance Parts. The new lift kit is just one of them. “Virtually every Mopar product for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler is new, redeveloped or redesigned,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO, Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care.

The 200 accessories developed for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler have undergone a collective 100,000 hours of testing, on the field and at the Mopar Product Development Lab, to ensure they meet all of the Mopar fit, function, safety, performance and durability standards.


• Military-grade off-road lights – fi ve- or seven-inch styles that shine at 4,080 lumens or 8,000 lumens
• Unique rock rails – thicker, wider than before with a non-slip finish (the same finish as on the bedliner)
• Beadlock-capable wheels – with 12mm offset to accommodate oversized tires and navigate off-road terrain

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the entire lineup of Jeep Performance Parts for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler,  available at vehicle launch, here.






The 6.2-liter Hellcrate Crate HEMI Engine Kit was announced in October, but it’s been a plan at the Mopar Product Development Lab for quite some time now.

The engine is the first-ever supercharged, 707-horsepower factory-backed crate engine kit that delivers plug-and-play performance on any vehicle that can house it, although it is specifically intended for pre-1976 street and off-road vehicles.

You can literally drop it into a 1970 Challenger, Belvedere or even a big ‘ole ’70s Bonneville.

“I’ve tuned this engine to every possible scenario,” said Randy Gallagher, the lead Mopar Engineer on the project. “There are thousands of tunings and adjustments to be made – and if just one is wrong, the engine won’t start. It’s kind of like a strand of tree lights – you have to find that one light that went out to get the whole strand working again. Except this strand has around 80,000 lights.

“We test the hell out of them.”

The 6.2L fuel-injected engine self-learns and adapts itself to climate, altitude and other outside influences. “It is really a one-of-a-kind crate,” said Gallagher. “Because it puts a modern day driving experience into a classic car. It idles smoothly and offers A/C and power steering options. We also offer a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission that can handle all the power the Hellcrate can dish out.”

“This engine is tuned to perfection and adjusts to every scenario.”


In partnership with Diversified Creations, Mopar is dropping the Hellcrate into a 1967 Belvedere to showcase how the crate can modify the performance of an old car to feel like new. Look for the sleeper in 2018 at car shows, Mopar events and all over social media.


  • Powertrain control module (PCM) (set to factory 707-horsepower calibration)
  • Power distribution center
  • Engine wiring harness
  • Chassis harness
  • Accelerator pedal
  • Ground jumper
  • Oxygen sensors
  • Charge air temperature sensors
  • Fuel pump control module


  • Contact your local FCA US dealer to purchase
  • Engine assembly PN: 68303089AA, MSRP $19,530
  • Engine kit PN: 77072452AB, MSRP $2,195
  • Mopar three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty when purchased together


The Mopar Product Development Lab is about more than off-road performance and on-road horsepower. It’s about creating, improving and testing every part that proudly bears the Mopar name.

Case in point, Mopar All-Weather Floor Mats.

“There are a lot of aftermarket mats out there,” said Barb Willobee, Mopar Engineer, “and one that does enough advertising for everyone. With that product, and their hints of superiority, we decided to analyze their product, then go to market with Mopar mats that literally wipe the floor with them.”

The testing began with a deep dive analysis of the competition. The findings laid the groundwork for the improvement of future Mopar mats.

“The competitor starts with a single sheet of plastic and presses into shape; there are two problems with that,” explained Willobee. One is that, because a flat sheet plastic makes up the whole floor mat, there is no support for high-impact areas, so the competitor’s mat moves around. The second problem is the scan itself. The competitor uses an interior vehicle scan. But what if that vehicle is compromised or didn’t meet tolerances? The deficiency carries through the mold and onto every product.

“Since we have the exact measurements for our vehicles, a scan is unnecessary. We create our product on factory data so the fit is always spot on,” said Willobee. “There is no guesswork in accommodating the brake and accelerator pads; we include an advanced retention system and maximize factory anchors to eliminate shifting. We also build up the underside so the fit is level and stable.”

The Mopar Lab team really evaluated the design, creating deeper channels, more rigid sidewalls and advanced reservoir systems that contain spills — and work for the customer in realworld scenarios. The competition’s second row mat is all one piece, which means, when it’s removed for cleaning, the user has to tip it on its side which can result in dumping the dirt on to the floor. The Mopar second row mat avoids that scenario with an interlocking design, so it can be removed in parts. No tipping or twisting required to take it out of the vehicle.

“We also use a superior material that is odorless and structurally sound. It features a 33% thicker mid-section for enhanced comfort and durability,” said Willobee. “When we get the prototype, the testing begins.”

That testing is no joke. It consists of over 30 rigorous tests like:

  • 7-day chamber test in 185°F heat, to ensure mats are warp-free
  • Test in -4°F cold, where the mats are rolled and maneuvered to make sure they don’t crack
  • Time on a “Taber” table, which involves 2,000 cycles under a friction disc, to ensure high-wear areas can handle the load
  • Rigorous stain testing, with items like coffee, chocolate, ketchup, sunblock, etc.

The end result is the intended result: mats that outsmart, outlast, outfit and outperform the competition. And look good doing it.